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Intelligence agencies injecting drugs to extract information.


Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are using drugs to extract information from political activists, while doctors on the payroll of the state are believed to be playing a role in this unethical practice.  

Abdul Wahab, a 55-year-old Baloch activist, told The News that he was injected with a drug by intelligence agencies after he was picked up on May 28, 2008 from near Zainab Market, Karachi. 

“We held a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club on May 28, 2008 to condemn the creation of an atom bomb. After the rally, I was going back to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office situated nearby, when I was stopped by two plain-clothed men near Zainab Market. These men put a revolver on my temple, pushed me in a white car and put a chador over me,” Wahab told The News.

Wahab said that the car reached some place after nearly half an hour, a gate was opened and he was blindfolded. His hands were also tied from behind, and he was taken to a room. “While I was blindfolded, I was beaten so severely that I became unconscious,” he said.

“Those people were abusing Baloch leader Akhter Mengal, and asked me where we are getting our ammunition from, who was funding us, who were the people involved in the bomb blast at Hub (Balochistan), where was our headquarter, who was the chief of the Watan Brigade, how many members it has, and so on,” he said.

“After beating me up severely for a day, I was shifted to another place and pushed on a stretcher-like thing. Somebody shot an injection in my forearm, and I felt as if my entire body had become numb. However, my brain was still active,” he recalled. “I started speaking voluntarily, but I don’t remember what I said. When I regained consciousness, I had a severe headache and my mouth was dry.” 

Wahab asked for some water and tea from his captors, a request that was granted, along with two tablets. When he told his captors that he wanted to go to the bathroom, his blindfold was temporarily removed from his eyes, and he found himself in some sort of a lock-up, but not that of a police station. 

He was blindfolded again after he had used the bathroom urinated, and then taken to another, cooler room – indicating that the room had an air conditioner. Somebody then began asking him questions, albeit politely. Wahab informed him that he was a human rights’ activist, and helped the families of “missing” people. He was told that “missing” persons were “terrorists,” and helping them was a crime. After five days of confinement, the entirety of which were spent blindfolded, Wahab was released near the Finance and Trade Centre (FTC) on Sharea Faisal, and asked not to look back; otherwise, he would be shot dead. “Since then, I have been receiving abusive calls on my cell phone during the middle of the night. I have changed my cell phone many a times, but it is always traced,” he said.

Doctors fear that in all probability, Wahab was injected with a drug that has been nicknamed ‘Truth Serum.’ After taking the Truth Serum, a person is said to become highly talkative, and shares his/her thoughts without hesitation. The Dorlands’ Illustrated Medical Dictionary describes the Truth Serum as “an ultra-short-acting barbiturate (drug) to produce general anaesthesia, and for narcoanalysis in psychiatric disorders.”

The proper name for this drug is thiopental sodium, eminent psychiatrist Prof. S. Haroon Ahmed told The News, explaining that the drug is also called Sodium Pentothal. “There are various kinds of methods used to extract information from people suspected of anti-social or so-called anti-state activities. Besides physical torture, psychological methods are keeping a person in incognito and keeping him awake for a long time and altering all normal expectations. 

“There are, however, other methods in which doctors are involved, such as administering injections of tripentina sodium (Truth Serum). The effect of the injection is that the person become uninhibited, and frequently pours out facts that he/she would otherwise not disclose. The involvement of medical community in any act of torture or forced extraction of information has been banned by the international medical community. This has also been endorsed by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA),” he said. 

Dr Shershah Syed, former general secretary of the PMA, said: “Doctors should not get involved in any kind of activity causing physical, psychological and emotional torture in collaboration with government or non-government agencies.”